For once in my Life

FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE
Author: Simba, simba.le.chat@wanadoo.fr
Series : TNG/DS9
Characters : Vic Fontaine, Data, Deanna Troy, Minuet.

– “Computer, load Las Vegas program !”
The door opened into a big room where there was a subdued lighting. On
one side, a welcoming bar where some customers were drinking cocktails.
On the wall, musicians were painted in a retro style. On the other side,
a stage with a piano, double bass, percussion and wind instruments. Spots
diffused lights of different colors. Between the bar and the still empty
stage at this hour, round tables surrounded by armchairs. On each of these
tables, there were little lamps, switched on. This place was convivial.
Though it was quiet, its atmosphere was warm, and induced to sit down
just for the pleasure.
It’s in this room that Data has just got into. He was in a smart
cabaret at Las Vegas, in 1962. He stopped there a few seconds, a little
surprised by this place which seemed unusual for him, looked around him
and finally, went to the bar.
A distinguished-looking man, dressed in a tuxedo, introduced himself to
him with a smile, and held out his hand :
“Hi, You’re Data, I suppose… I’m Vic Fontaine, and
I’m very happy to meet you” Data shook his hand : “Good
evening, Mister !”.
– “Everybody knows each other, around here, you know. It’s
like a huge family ! so, call me Vic !”
– “Yes, Mister……sorry !…Vic.”
– Vic smiled. “What can I do for you ?”
– “A birthday party will be organized in a few days, for one of
my friends. I would like to sing for this occasion. My problem is I do
not succeed in singing without making causing the hilarity of the audience.
I do not want to make it laugh ! I want to sing, quite simply ! It seems
you are a great singer. Could you learn me how to sing, please ?”.
Vic looked like surprised, nevertheless, he answered :
– “Of course……..yes ! What song have you chosen ?”
– “For once in my life”
– “Humm ! For once in my life ?” said Vic skeptically. “Why
not ? Frank Sinatra is always a good choice. Sing it to me ! I will listen
to you, and I’ll tell you what I think. And I promise I won’t
laugh at you. Come on stage and take the micro !”
Vic sat down a little further. “Music !” he ordered.
Data took the micro. Some musicians appeared on the stage as if they came
from nowhere, and the music started to play. Data sang. Vic understood
very quickly why Data seemed so funny to the others. He was like a comedian
parodying a famous singer. It was hardly easy for an android, like him,
to transmit his emotion. And Data wasn’t at ease. He was very stilted.
When he was moving, he had excessive and clumsy movements. Although he
sang in tune, he was incapable of showing feelings through his song. He
didn’t smile either. On the contrary, he remained impassive. Behind
his awkwardnesses, finally, he felt ridiculous. But Vic had promised not
to laugh. What’s more, he didn’t feel like laughing. When
the song was at last finished, Vic applauded politely, stood up and went
towards Data.
– “Good ! you sing in tune and in time. But, honestly, you are rigid
and as frozen as an icicle !
Stop gesticulating like this ! you‘re a singer and not a traffic
cop !”
Data, surprised : – “A traffic cop ?”
– “Sorry ?….. yes… a traffic policeman !”
– “I do not understand what…. ”
Vic, with a sudden movement : – “Forget it ! I try to make you understand
you don’t have to flap around, but to transmit feelings with words
and music.”
– “I am an android, I do not have emotions. So, how can I show them
?”
– “I know, I understand what you mean. Come on and sit down, I’ll
try to explain you. Imagine…., you can do that, no ? imagine there’s
somebody very close to you, in the public. When you’re singing,
you’re speaking to this person, and you’re telling her things
in particular, very pleasantly, very kindly. OK ! you’re an android,
but you know what to be kind-hearted means, no ? I do know you’re
kind-hearted. Show it ! Be relaxed and not so rigid in your movements
! try to be natural, try to be yourself ! Wait a minute, I’m going
to show you.”
Vic stood up and came on stage. With a snap of his fingers, the music
started. Vic sang splendidly “All the way” with emotion and
warmth. When he finished to sing, he rejoined Data, and, looking him straight
in the eye : “Tell me now you haven’t felt anything when I
was singing… tell me it !” Data gazed at him with surprise,
but didn’t answer. Vic sighed and smiled : “I thought so……..then,
now, pallie, it’s your turn !”
Data hesitated. Vic insisted : “Come on…start again, and do
as I told you ! Sing with your heart !
Data sang again ; this time he didn’t dare move too much, and try
with difficulty to show feelings. It wasn’t perfect yet, but it
was better. Vic stopped him : “Don’t forget to smile when
you sing something cheerful !”
Data smiled, but with a forced smile.
– “No Data, don’t make a face ! smile ! think to something
happy !”
Data smiled. It wasn’t a natural smile but a kind of smile which
was all right.
– “Yes, it’s better, but you still have work to do…”
Once the sing was finished, Vic went towards Data and gave him a friendly
pat on the shoulder.
– “We stop for this evening. We’ll start working again, tomorrow,
okay ? let’s go for a drink.
Vic took Data to the bar and poured champagne in two glasses.
-“For you, to sing is easy, said Data. But, I am not at my ease
on stage. I feel I am a puppet. I am made to consider scientific and logical
facts.”
– “I know. To become an artist isn’t easy. Believe me, for
a human, it’s not simple too ! A lot of work and perserverance is
necessary.”
-“But, you are not a human being, Vic. You are a hologram, you are
reproduced and programmed by a computer.”
– “I’m totally aware of it. Never mind ! The main thing is
not to know who has created you, and even how, but to know what you can
do for the others, and to show humaneness.”.
– “You are not a real human being, and yet you are human. You understand
the others, while I live with human beings, I try to understand their
attitude, their reaction, their way of living because my wish is to become
like them. I study Earth literature, the violin, the painting. I play
classical theatre. My friends often say I perfectly reproduce a work,
but I miss what is called the soul.”
– “I see. You know, to have a soul means to express a feeling and
to transmit it. Don’t worry, baby. Your party is within a few days.
We’ll try to find this soul and to make it bubble up.”
– “Do you really think it is possible ? I would like to surprise
my friend.”
– “Trust Vic Fontaine !” answered Vic, winking at him. “
Hey ! tonight, I give a show. Stay here, you’re my guest.”
– “I thank you, but I must leave now. Good evening, Vic. See you
tomorrow.”
– “Bye !”
Data went away. Customers started to get in the cabaret. Vic watched Data
leaving the room and thought “Data, you old devil !”
***************
The day after, Data came in, dressed in a tuxedo. Vic welcomed him friendly.
– “Hello, Data, you’re splendid !”
– “I thought this tuxedo could logically be important to make a
good impression on the public.”
– “You’re right ! you’re making progress, you know.
Tonight, I suggest we sing together. We each sing a stanza. I start !
be careful my dear Data, you have a public ! hit it !”
They started to sing, but Data wasn’t very at ease, and wasn’t
used to be in front of a public. So, he copied Vic’s attitude and
his way of singing. After a while, Vic exasperated, stopped the music,
and the public disappeared.
– “No, no, and no Data ! don’t imitate me ! I don’t
need another Vic Fontaine ! if you do that, the show will be a flop !
I would like to be in sole command ! Don’t fake anyone… you
make parody ! once more, be yourself ! it’s you who sing and anyone
else !”
– “I have stored in my memory examples of singers…..”
– “So, forget them !…. We start again.” He sighed.
The public appeared and the music started to play.
Data, a little embarrassed at first, wasn’t unruffled. He showed
goodwill under the observant eye of Vic. Nobody laughed. On the contrary,
there was a loud applause. Vic, finally, was proud of his new pupil.
At the end of the show, Vic congratulated Data for his incontestable progress.
– “You see, it’s not so difficult ! You must believe in you
!”
– “Really ?” asked Data with a doubt in his voice.
– “Yes ! Ha ! Ha ! you’re incredible, but you’re a nice
chap !”
– Data looked at Vic with a litlle surprise, then asked : “May I
ask you something ?”
– “Yes..”
– “Do you mind if this party takes place here ? I would like to
invite you… and could you accompany me on the piano while I will
sing ?”
– “Of course, my friend. I’ll be very pleased. And thank you
for your invitation. It’s very kind of you. I’ll take care
personally of the organization of your reception. But you must continue
your rehearsals. I want you to come here every night until this party
!”
During the following days, Vic made Data sing and gave him a lot of advice.
Data performed in the cabaret with a great pleasure. It sounds like he
enjoyed himself as he had never done before.
***************
On an evening, while Vic was doing his accounts in his suite not very
far from the cabaret, someone knocked at the door. He stood up and went
to open the door. A young lady introduced herself :
– “Hello ! I’m Deanna Troy, counselor on the Enterprise.”
– “Hello, doll-face, I’ve ever heard of you. Come on ! may
I help you ?” Deanna got in, and they sat down.”
– “I need to speak with you. It’s about Data.” said
Deanna.
– “What’s wrong with him ?”
– “Nothing…, nothing serious ! but I know he asked you something
particular.”
– “Did he tell you about it ?”
– “No, but we’ve seen him coming here these last few days.
And it’s my job to study the social psychology. Data is a little
different, lately. Why does he come here ?”
– “Should I answer you ?”
– “No, of course…., but I’m a little worried about him”
– “Well.. He said me he wanted how to sing to the birthday of a
friend. Why ? Is it so strange ?” asked Vic surprised
– “A friend ? no, of course, it’s not strange. What will he
sing ?”
– “For once of my life”
– “And nothing has surprised you in his request ? ”
– “No…….or perhaps, after all. You know, I don’t
meddle in other people’s affairs. He asked me to help him, what I tried
to do, as a friend. He’s happy, and me too. It’s simple !”
– “I understand. You’re very nice. You’ve helped him.
He was anxious, and now he feels better.”
– “Why ? What’s his problem ?”
Deanna smiles : – “He’s in love !”
– “Really ? But I believed an androide could not have such feelings
?”
– “It is true. But a few times ago, he found in the main memory of
the Enterprise the hologram of Minuet. An artificial person created by
the Bynars people. This program is able to have almost identical feelings
to those of human ones. From day to day, this young woman, Minuet, seems
to have recognition towards Data to have released her from the memory,
and becomes attached more and more to him. Curiously, he is touched by
that. It seems she’s able to retransmit to him what he feels…
As he never had this kind of emotions, he tries to understand what happens
to him ! Then, our Data probably sought a way of saying her what he supposes
to feel. So he had the idea to organize this party between colleagues,
with her, supposedly for the birthday of a friend, and the song must to
be this means, I think. ”
– “I had to contribute to develop feelings in him…… Is it a problem
to him, I mean, from a functional point of view ? ”
– “Not in theory, no ! But you know, we know him for a long time,
and all that is rather unusual for us, as for him. If that makes him happy,
it is a great chance. In any case, as you often see him, if you notice
something strange, please tell me it at once ”
– “OK, don’t worry. Everything will be all right. ”
– “Of course, don’t tell him that I came to see you. All that
must remain between you and me. Can I count on you?”
– “I promise you. goodbye ”
– “Thank you, goodbye”.
***************
The evening of the party arrived. A large table was set in the middle
of the room, ready to accommodate about ten people. A beautiful earthenware
crockery, silver cutlery and beautiful glasses were laid out. A superb
crystal gloss had been installed for the occasion. A background music
gave a festive atmosphere.
The guests arrived. Vic received them as was proper, with style………
Data then introduced her friend Minuet to Vic, and before the dinner,
everyone was invited to have a glass of champagne.
Data, suddenly, went towards Vic :
– “Vic, I have to confess to you something. I talked to you about
a friend. In fact, it was about Minuet……… ”
Vic looked at him, and smiling :
– “I understand Data…… when a man sings a love song, It’s
usually for a woman, no ? … You are a secretive thing, you know!

– “I hope you are not angry with me about I did not tell you the
truth ”
– “No ! On the contrary, we all have our secrets…….. Come
on ! It’s your turn now, if you’re ready to impress the crowd
! ”
Vic sat down at the piano, and started to play. Data took the micro and
started to sing For once in my life. He never had sung it so well. He
was very applauded by everyone.
The party was a success and finished very late in the night.
***************
The following day, Data returned to see Vic.
– “Hi, Data ! And this evening ? “everything went well as you
wanted ?
– “Yes. I think that everyone was agreeably surprised by my performance……..but
the most important thing, it is the pleasure I have made to Minuet. She
was very happy, she even asked me to teach her this song !”
– “I’m sure that you will be an excellent professor.”

– “Not as good as you……… I want to thank you for all and especially
for your patience towards the androide which I am.”
– “Anytime, Pallie… come and see me whenever you want. My club
is always open to you. Say hello to Minuet from me and I wish you to be
happy.”
They shook hands, and Data left the cabaret.
***************
A new public appeared, some musicians made their entrance, Vic came on
stage and started to sing. >

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